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Ambivalence About Jon Stewart

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Some people seem very excited about Jon Stewart's (and Stephen Colbert's) upcoming rally in Washington this weekend. And, snagging President Obama for an interview on his show was a clear win for Stewart, earning him tons of coverage in the rest of the media, from the front page of USAToday to the lead spot on the Politico.com website to every cable news show. And, from the President's point of view, he was able to reach out to a host of young voters via one of their favorite shows and defend his record.

But, am I the only one who thought the interview with the President was bad television? On one side of the desk, a funnyman trying to bring levity. On the other side of the desk, a serious man trying to discuss serious issues.

There was not a desk between the two, there was an abyss. I am all for comedians making fun of politicians, but "interviewing" them falls flat. Obama is not looking for a laugh; he is looking for a way to get the economy going. It made me uncomfortable watching the two pursue their divergent aims at te same time. I had the same feeling when Colbert testified before Congress, in character, last month.

Why the Anti-RC Ads are Good

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A mailing from the Democratic Farm Labor Party in Minnesota, featuring a man in a Roman collar with a button that reads “Ignore the Poor,” has become something of a cause celebre in conservative Catholic circles. “The DFL deliberately exploited Catholic imagery to make a political point,” ranted Bill Donohue of the Catholic League. “Had they pictured an imam on the front of its mailing, the DFL wouldn't treat its critics so cavalierly. If the DFL wants to paint Hall as anti-poor, then do it. But don't do it by hijacking Catholic imagery. While the text is about Dan Hall, the teaser—that which gets the attention of the reader—is a Catholic-baiting stunt that paints priests as anti-poor.”

Q & A: Catholic Charities in New Orleans

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This week at Q & A, we are looking at the distinctiveness of Catholic charitable activity. This topic was suggested by two facts, the release of the USCCB report on the CCHD, about which I wrote yesterday, and by the news that Catholic Charities was one of the few charities in the U.S. that saw contributions increase last year.

Today, we hear from Jim Kelly and Gordon Wadge, co-presidents of Catholic Charities in New Orleans. That city was still recovering from the failure of the levees after Hurricane Katrina when its economy took another hit this year from the Gulf oil spill. Readers are encouraged to visit their website and make a contribution.

The question: What is most distinctive about Catholic charitable work?

World Series & Politics

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Once it became clear that the Red Sox were not going to make the playoffs this year, my interest waned, except of course to cheer for any team playing against the Yankees.

So, I am inclined to cheer for the Texas Rangers merely because they did the world a favor of sending the Bronx Bombers home early and proving that money may or may not buy love, but it can't always buy a championship. (This point was reinforced last night when the Boston Celtics spanked the Miami Heat!)

But, there is another reason to cheer for the Rangers. San Francisco voters are pretty set in their ways and are unlikely to be moved one way or the other based on their mood. But Texas has several competitive races and the last thing we need is to stoke their anger. So, go Rangers! Chet Edwards will be cheering you on for sure!

Novak & Agitprop

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A concerned reader asked if I was not being too harsh yesterday when I said that Michael Novak’s book “Toward a Theology of the Corporation” was “agitprop.”

I submit the following excerpt from that work. You be the judge.
“For many years, one of my favorite texts in Scripture has been Isaiah 53:2-3: ‘He hath no form or comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; he was despised and we esteemed him not.’ I would like to apply these words to the modern business corporation, a much despised incarnation of God’s presence in this world.”

Q.E.D. Such near-blasphemy may get one a corner office at the American Enterprise Institute, but if that is not agitprop, I don’t know what is.

Berkowitz vs. Dionne on Tea Party

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When you find two of your friends in the midst of an argument, it makes sense to walk in the other direction. But the issue of the Tea Party’s significance, currently being debated by E. J. Dionne and Peter Berkowitz is so central to our understanding of this election, that the debate between the two warrants a closer look and I can’t resist the temptation to jump in.

In case you have not been following the back and forth, Berkowitz, a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and all-around great guy, wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal in which he explained why liberals “don’t get” the Tea Party. Amongst other culprits, Berkowitz cited the current higher educational system which is, he contends, light on the Federalist Papers and heavy on liberal “big government” approaches. Berkowitz argued that a commitment to limited government has a noble tradition, as indeed it does, and that the Tea Party is essentially the latest iteration of this limited government tradition.

Yahoo Watch: Michael Novak

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Sometimes, I wonder what planet Michael Novak is living on. Over at InsideCatholic they have an interview with him in which he discusses his 1981 book "Toward a Theology of the Corporation." If there is a piece of conservative religious agitprop more obnoxious than that book, I don't know it.

It is a measure of Novak's lack of understanding of and appreciation for Catholic antropology that he uses a phrase, sometimes used by those on the left as well, that I always find chilling: "human capital."

You will note that "capital" not "human" is the noun there, which tells you all you need to know about why Novak's efforts to baptize contemporary capitalism are mere idolatry.

Obama to Campaign for Perriello

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According to the Daily Progress, President Obama will go to Charlottesville Friday to campaign for Cong. Tom Perriello at the University of Virginia.

Perriello is in a tough fight and a visit from Obama cuts both ways. It may help motivate young voters to turnout next Tuesday but it may also motivate GOP-leaning Independents to do the same. Perriello must have made the calculation that with GOP already fired up, motivating his base was the best way to punch back.

The decision to dispatch the President also shows something the public polls do not: This race must be close enough that the strategists at the White House think they can win it.

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July 18-31, 2014

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